FBI arrests Los Osos man who joined Oregon occupation
February 12, 2016
The FBI arrested Los Osos resident Neil Wampler during a sweep in which federal agents rounded up protesters who participated in the armed occupation of a wildlife refuge in Oregon. FBI agents arrested Wampler at his home Wednesday night. [Tribune]
Wampler, 68, is charged with a single felony count of conspiracy to impede officers of the United States from discharging their official duties through the use of force, intimidation or threats. Federal authorities have indicted at least 25 participants in the occupation, each of whom face the charge of conspiring to impede federal officers.
On Thursday, Wampler appeared at a U.S. District Court in Los Angeles for a bond hearing. A judge continued the hearing, and Wampler remained in federal custody overnight.
A judge will decide Friday whether to grant Wampler bail. The judge will also set a date for a post-indictment arraignment.
In January, Wampler drove to Oregon from his Central Coast home in order to join the occupation. He served as a camp cook at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
During his stay there, media outlets reported Wampler was convicted of murdering his father in 1977. The killing occurred in a drunken rage, and Wampler served four years in prison before being released.
Wampler responded with an opinion piece in CalCoastNews saying the media was trying to use the crime to shift the focus of coverage away from the issues being raised by the protesters.
“The malicious, politically motivated ‘expose’ of a simple private citizen like myself has become SOP for unprincipled news sources which try to shift the dialogue away from the issues and onto a personal nullification,” Wampler wrote.
On Jan. 26, the FBI stopped a two-vehicle convoy that included Nevada resident Ammon Bundy and other leaders of the occupation. Agents shot and killed Robert “LaVoy” Finicum during an ensuing confrontation.
Most of the remaining protesters then left the refuge after hearing they would not be arrested if they took off quickly. The final four occupiers of the refuge surrendered to federal agents Thursday morning.